MDEQ Announces Restoration Projects

From:  News Release   11/15/17   GCN
 
(BILOXI, Miss.) – The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced a list of 19 new restoration projects during the Mississippi Restoration Summit in Biloxi on Tuesday. When implemented, these projects will add more than $83 million to the total already being spent on restoration projects in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
 
“These projects will continue our efforts to ensure funds are spent in the most effective and strategic ways to restore and enhance our natural resources and our economy following the oil spill,” Gov. Bryant said. “This latest round is another component of our efforts to improve our natural resources for wildlife, for marine life, for sportsmen, for recreation and for beach visitors.”
 
“We believe the Mississippi Restoration Summit is an excellent way to interact with the public and explain where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are headed with all aspects of restoration funding including these new projects. It has been our goal since the spill happened in 2010 to effectively utilize the funding available to identify projects that will enhance our valuable natural resources and bolster the economy,” said Gary Rikard, MDEQ Executive Director. 

The projects announced for 2017 are from two funding streams—the RESTORE Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
 
RESTORE Act Projects:

Mississippi Gulf Coast Water Quality Improvement Program (Additional $4 million in 2017; Total Program $60 million) – This program will identify and repair infrastructure in areas along the coast that are having issues with water quality. One of the goals of the project is to reduce the number of beach advisories.

Remote Oyster Setting Facility ($9.36 million) – This project will fund the establishment of an oyster setting facility to support the placement of oyster larvae on cultch material to transport to oyster reefs and increase oyster production. This project will complement the proposed USM Oyster Hatchery. 

Pascagoula Oyster Reef Relay and Enhancement (Additional $600,000; Total Project $4.1 million) – The enhancement will invest money in moving oysters from unharvestable reefs to harvestable reefs, using the best available science to select locations and to maximize oyster production.

Trent Lott International Airport Runway Improvements ($6.85 million) – This project will enhance economic development and support existing industry in Jackson County. The funds will pay for runway improvements. 

Coastal Headwaters Land Conservation ($8 million) – This project will support the coastal headwaters land conservation program by purchasing and/or preserving lands adjacent to, and/or targeted around existing conservation areas.

Pearl River Community College Workforce Center ($2.5 million) – This project will enhance workforce training in Hancock County by supporting the establishment of a workforce training center focused on existing and future industry workforce training needs.

Harrison County Bulkhead and Dock Construction ($3.4 million) – This project will fund the construction of additional bulkhead and dock capacity along the Industrial Seaway in the Bayou Bernard Industrial District to enhance maritime-related industry growth opportunities and support existing industry.
 
Round Island Living Shoreline Demonstration and Protection Project ($2.2 million) – This project will support planning, engineering and design and permitting of living shoreline structures at the Round Island Beneficial Use site to protect the newly-created sand berm and marsh as well as provide support for the expansion of the current site. 
 
Gulf of Mexico Citizen Led Initiative ($1.9 million) – This project will provide funding to the University of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to establish a citizen-led program and develop a mobile phone app to gather coastal ecosystem health assessment data.
 
Bayou Casotte Industrial Buffer Concept – Planning Assistance ($500,000) – This project will provide funding to support the assessment of a concept to develop a buffer between the industrial and residential area along Bayou Casotte Parkway in Pascagoula.
 
Gulf Coast Small Business Incubator Capacity Enhancement ($700,000) –  This project will provide funding to expand small business incubator capacity on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to encourage regional small business development and growth.
 
Gulf Coast Tourist Wayfinding and Informational Signage ($1 million) – This project will support the promotion of tourism by implementing tourist wayfinding and information signage across the Mississippi Gulf Coast to attract visitors and enhance their experience. 
 
University of Southern Mississippi Marine Research Center ($2 million) – This project will support the development of the new USM Marine Research Center by funding the necessary technology and equipment to support marine research and education activities. 
 
Compatibility, Coordination, and Restoration Planning (Two projects totaling $1 million) – This project will provide funds to support restoration planning.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Projects:

Pascagoula River Corridor Acquisitions ($11.85 million) – This project will support the acquisition of more than 3,400 acres of floodplain habitat and riparian buffer along the Pascagoula River corridor to benefit various wading birds, waterfowl, fish, and downstream water quality. 

Reef Fish Assessment for Mississippi Coastal and Nearshore Waters – Phase II ($2.35 million) – This project will fund continuing assessments of reef fish in coastal Mississippi and nearshore Gulf waters. Collection of biological, environmental, and fishery-dependent data will help to reduce the scientific uncertainty around several key factors influencing red snapper and other reef fish population structures and stock assessments.

Utilization of Dredge Material for Marsh Restoration in Coastal Mississippi – Phase II ($23.6 million) – This Phase II of the Mississippi beneficial use (BU) of dredge material project will focus on continued utilization of material from various maintenance dredging activities to restore and create additional marsh habitat.
 
Mississippi Comprehensive Restoration Planning – Phase II ($1.5 million) – This Phase II planning project will expand Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Restoration Plan to include establishing additional conservation goals for living coastal and marine resources including birds and water quality.
 
Comprehensive information about all of Mississippi’s restoration efforts can be found at www.restore.ms